The Deliverability Problem In Reverse

I'm preparing for Ad:Tech next week. I'm booked solid with back-to-back meetings. And my taxes still have to go to the post office. In other words: don't expect gems or a long article today!

But there actually was an interesting report that came out this week that lets me recycle an earlier article idea and kill two birds with one stone. The report, which is something I wish I had thought of, was put out by a group called Hornstein Associates. Hornstein sent out a one-line email to the customer service departments of 49 highly respected companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart to see how long it would take them to respond.

The email they sent simply said: "What is your corporate policy regarding the turnaround time for e-mails addressed to customer service?" And the results? Only half responded at all, and only 33% responded within a 24-hour period. Five years ago 86% responded and 63% responded in 24 hours. Apparently poor open rates run both ways.

Hmmm....That reminds me of an article I wrote a while back...(fade to wavy lines revealing a less grey and much svelter Bill slaving away on his manual typewriter).



A while back I reported on a prominent musical instrument manufacturer known for electric guitars -- especially a specific type of vintage guitar, no longer made. One fan in particular wrote the company trying to locate a replacement part and noting that there were many fans of the instrument who wouldn't mind seeing it back in production. The fan who documented everything on a community site dedicated to lovers of the instrument in question received an answer back from the assistant to the head of marketing... two years later. A bit out of the scope of the Hornstein report.

The assistant mentioned that she would tell the powers-that-be that there was strong interest in a reissue of said instrument. That, of course, was all that members of the community site needed to hear; they began writing to the assistant with their own pleas and testimonials about what the instrument had meant to them all these years.

Was the company thrilled that they now had the email addresses of a whole group of rabid fans of their company? Were they excited by the marketing possibilities of quoting the lavish praises of their instruments? Did they gather the community together for a group picture and hug? Not on your life.

In fact, the assistant asked that her name and email be removed from the community site and she asked the original poster to tell the group that she was not interested in hearing from them -- could they stop emailing her? That is right. The assistant. Of a company's head of marketing. Is tired of hearing from customers who love its products.

So next time you start thinking about your deliverability problem, look to see if you have a deliverability issue coming the other way. And you heads of marketing -- you might just want to check up on your assistants from time to time.

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